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Tendai Biti

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe will invest heavily in fibre optic infrastructure in 2013, to boost internet connectivity across the country, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said today.

Presenting the 2013 budget, Biti said the 2013 Budget provision will target completion of Bulawayo – Beitbridge and Bulawayo – Victoria Falls fibre optic infrastructure through state owned fixed phone operator, TelOne.

Tel-One would also have to sink its own resources in the project, he said.

Without mention figures, he said the government and the private sector in 2012 invested heavily towards the development of a fibre optic backbone infrastructure in the country with the fiscus having covered Harare – Mutare and Harare – Bulawayo areas.

Additional investments are required to cover Bulawayo – Beit bridge, Bulawayo – Victoria Falls and Harare – Kariba.

“Such infrastructure also enables the country to develop a robust, competitive and vibrant information communication technology industry that is responsive to the diverse needs of commerce and industry as well as support socio-economic development.

“With better ICT infrastructure, the potential for innovation, economic development and better public service delivery in the country become possible.

Government would also want to increase accessibility as well as affordability of ICTs in rural areas.

Biti said investments by the private sector have also improved the mobile footprint in the country with penetration rates of around 80% in 2012.

“Further improvements will require installation of additional base stations in remote areas as well as completion of the national fibre optic backbone project and implementation of the last mile roll out programme,” he said.

However, he said the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) has to address the issue of mobile operators sharing infrastructure to ensure optimal use of resources and better coverage.

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